Google finally seems to take privacy more seriously. Earlier this year a simpler and more transparent way to access your Location history and activities on the web and in apps and to delete data appeared. This seemed largely a reaction to the fuss after it turned out that your location could be accessed in other places than just Location History and it was not always clear to users when privacy-sensitive elements were actually turned off.
Google then defended itself by stating that there were “robust tools” to protect your privacy, but later came up with an improved interface, apparently recognizing that it could be a little clearer. In this interface, it was easier to access and delete parts of your activities. This is of course only effective if you do this regularly.
That’s why it’s nice to see that Google added a way to automatically delete data in May and you can set a date that the data will expire automatically. The options are not as fine-tuned as we would like, but you can set an end date of three or eighteen months so that even if you save places you visit, it won’t stay around forever.
The option is still rolling out, so you may not be able to find them on your smartphone. If you don’t find the feature in your mobile phone, then go to the normal web settings on the webpage which then applies to your Google account as a whole, including all Google apps and related Google activities.
- Go to your Google account, by visiting a Google account page
- Select Data and personalization
- Click on My activity
- Here you will immediately see a link with the text: “You can now choose whether your activity is automatically deleted. Go to your ‘Web and app activity'” Click here.
- If you select Choose for automatic removal, you will get a pop-up with three options. By default, this data is saved until you delete it yourself, but here you can also opt for retention periods of 3 or 18 months. Click Next and then Confirm.
For the location history, go to your Maps app on your phone and go through the following steps:
- Open the sidebar with the hamburger menu on the left (the three horizontal lines) and click on My timeline
- Open the menu with the three vertically stacked dots at the top right and choose Settings and privacy
- Scroll to Location Settings and tap the option Delete location history automatically
- Choose the option you want and click Next
- Check that you understand that previous data will be deleted and click on Confirm